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Old 04-09-2012, 12:52 AM   #1
Uziyahu
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Default Fermentation Chamber- My Easter Present

Happy Easter!
This is my first post on the forum, and I'd like to thank everyone who contributes. I've learned a lot from all of you, so I figured I could share what I built with the few people who would understand how excited I am about this.

So I've been home brewing since about Christmas when my wonderful wife bought me the equipment I needed to get started, and I've completely fallen in love. About 4 weeks ago, I brewed up a hefeweizen and the temperature spiked to about 85 degrees, which made the house way to warm for my beer. I tried the T-shirt evaporation cooling method to no avail. I couldn't get the temperature down long enough consistently to keep the taste I wanted, and I ended up with a very very very fruity hefeweizen. So...I decided to build a fermentation chamber. Here it is.




The whole thing was loosely based on the plans found here:
http://www.wortomatic.com/articles/38DD-Mother-of-a-Fermentation-Chiller

I took the basic shape of the fermentation chamber in the link, but took off some height since I used a fridge to chill instead of ice.

For temp control used a $30 mypin PID controller. It was relatively easy to wire (even for a guy like me with no electrical knowledge) after I found a tutorial in a thread on this site. A thread which I can't find anymore, unfortunately. Here it is.



As far as results go, it'll hold Ale temperatures pretty easily, and I'm testing lager temperatures as we speak.

I mounted the compressor on the top of the chamber because I have very limited space in my storage unit

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Old 04-09-2012, 01:00 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum. I can't see any pics

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Old 04-09-2012, 01:35 AM   #3
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Yeah. The pics didn't work. I'll try again.

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Old 04-09-2012, 02:02 AM   #4
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Pics look good to me!

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Old 04-09-2012, 02:04 AM   #5
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Very nice. Will it be big enough when the bug really hits? :-)

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Old 04-09-2012, 02:14 AM   #6
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Ahhh, now I can see them. Nice job!

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Old 04-09-2012, 02:26 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kapbrew13 View Post
Very nice. Will it be big enough when the bug really hits? :-)
I don't know if you noticed the amount of space in the storage unit, but I can't fit anything bigger in there.
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Old 04-09-2012, 02:34 AM   #8
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Good job! And welcome to HBT.

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Old 04-12-2012, 04:44 PM   #9
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Just after building this for cooling in the summer months, the weather dropped to lows of 30F and highs of 50F. Meaning, I may have to start heating my fermentation chamber rather than just cooling it. I was hoping to hold off on figuring this out until fall, but the weather did not help. Here's where I could use some help.

First, does anyone know of a cheap DC powered heat source that I could wire to the SSR to control the heating function. The SSR runs DC up to 24v and 20mA. I know it's designed to control a relay, but I'd like to avoid buying one.

Second, I figured out how to program the controller so it will turn the compressor on when it's too cool by setting it at Alarm 1. I'm not sure how to wire and program my controller so the SSR will switch on when the heat is too low. I'll put up a link to the manual with my PID controller, but I'll warn you...the manual is in very broken English.

http://www.agptek.com/software/PC5-2012-latest-manual.pdf

So here's how I programmed the unit. When alarm 1 goes off, it triggers the compressors and cools the chamber. The SSR is labeled "out". I'd like to get it to turn on my soon-to-be-purchased heat source.

Thanks in advance for the help.

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Old 04-12-2012, 05:19 PM   #10
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It always bugs me a little bit when people refer to their temperature controllers for ferm chambers as "PID" since you aren't using the PID, you're using a basic on/off control. But that's just a little OCD coming out

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uziyahu View Post
First, does anyone know of a cheap DC powered heat source that I could wire to the SSR to control the heating function. The SSR runs DC up to 24v and 20mA. I know it's designed to control a relay, but I'd like to avoid buying one.
20mA at 24V is less than half a watt, there's no way you can get enough heating power with that. I'd buy an SSR and have it switch a few outlets so you can plug in, say, a light bulb and a small fan simultaneously. I have a similar box that I use to keep fermentors/bottle warm, and even with no proper insulation I can keep a fermentor at 75-80 degrees (ambient temp ~55) using a regular 60W light bulb that's cycled off a good portion of the time.

I'm an engineer and part of my job is setting up test stands in an electrochemical research lab, I haven't read through the manual for your controller but I've worked with lots of the lab grade Omegas.

In general I would avoid using the alarm outputs to control. Especially with a refrigerator, it will cause too-frequent cycling that'll kill the compressor. The alarm outputs I've used are either latched or unlatched (user selectable), if it's latched you have to reset manually and if it's unlatched the alarm shuts down as soon as the PV is within the "safe" range. You can't set a deadband on the alarm, so say you set the high limit to 70 degrees, at 70.0 the compressor will kick on, turn off at 69.9, turn back on a second later at 70.0, etc. The compressor won't last long doing that.

I'm not sure if your controller has two outputs and if they're both SSR outputs, if they are you can use two relays and run output 1 as cooling, output 2 as heating, etc. and use it as a dual stage on/off output. That way you can set proper deadbands on the on/off and give the two outputs slightly different setpoints so they aren't fighting each other.

Let me know if you need more help! I can check out the manual if you need me to. Either way this looks like a nice setup

I need to buy some insulation and make mine a proper heating box, I've been OK so far using a swamp cooler for cooling.
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